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Access to Maternal Health Services Improves with New Role of VHTs :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Access to Maternal Health Services Improves with New Role of VHTs

The VHTs, initially tasked with Primary Health Care roles like offering first aid, are now focused on improving maternal health services in rural areas. They have been incorporated in the Saving Mothers Giving Life (SMGL), a project aimed at reducing maternal deaths in Kabarole at 50%.

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More women have access to maternal health services in Kabarole districts thanks to the work of Village Health Teams (VHTs).

The VHTs, initially tasked with Primary Health Care roles like offering first aid, are now focused on improving maternal health services in rural areas. They have been incorporated in the Saving Mothers Giving Life (SMGL), a project aimed at reducing maternal deaths in Kabarole at 50%. 

They have mobilized and accompanied pregnant women to attend all four recommended antenatal visits, advocated for delivery in health facilities and postnatal check-up. Records at the district health department show deliveries at health facilities have significantly increased from 3,130 in 2013 to 5,179 in 2014, due to the services undertaken by volunteers.

Sande Ruyondo, a member of the Karangura Sub County Village Health Team says more than 3 women were losing lives each month due to poor maternal health care in his ocmmunity. “Women were ignorant about when to seek antenatal care, while others were delivering from Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) who lack basic hygienic practices,” He adds.

Ruyondo explains that with the use of a mobile phone, he has helped the women access maternal health services on time by linking them to various health facilities that immediately provide an ambulance.

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Patrick Muhenda, another VHT member in Kichwamba Sub County says that he has helped 200 women in the community to deliver in health facilities over the last one year, through provision of information on the importance of maternal health.

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Faith Baguma, a resident of Karangura town council, a beneficiary of the VHT services admits the teams have been helpful but notes the hardships they experience when offering maternal health services to the community.

Richard Obet, the Kabarole district health officer says that 532 VHTS have been trained and more are yet to undergo training in basic maternal healthcare services and will be provided each with a mobile phone with a toll-free line for emergency responses. Obet adds that the district department has also allocated 100 Million Shillings in the 2015/2016 financial year to facilitate the work of the VHTs. 

VHTs have several times petitioned the government to be provided with allowances, since they supplement efforts of the few available health workers, but the government has turned a deaf ear to their demands. 

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